Swimming Pool and Spa Pool Changes in Legislation


Recently the Swimming Pools Amendment Act 2012 introduced changes to increase swimming pool safety and save children’s lives, but they do put a responsibility on all property owners with swimming pools.

These days the definition of Swimming Pool might mean more than you think. It includes in-ground, above-ground, portable and spa pools that can be filled to a depth of 30 cm or more.

This legislation means that if you sell a property with a swimming pool you must put a Certificate of Compliance into your contract for sale. This was initially scheduled to begin at the end of this month on 29 April 2014, however this requirement has now been pushed back a full 12 months to 29 April 2015.

The reason for this extra time is because councils inspectors have advised that there has been a high fail rate of swimming pools. The owners then need to undertake work to the pool or surrounding area, and have sufficient funds to pay for the work, and then have council re-inspect the pool. This can cause delays in the issue of a compliance certificate of up to 3 months.

This means that if you wanted to sell your property and experienced troubles in receiving your swimming pool compliance certificate, then you may have to wait ¼ of a year to even be able to market your property to look for a buyer.

This has been found to be an unacceptably long time, and so the requirement to have a compliance certificate in your contract for sale has been delayed for 12 months, to enable people more time to have their pools inspected and carry out any repairs that may be necessary.

At the moment this means that if you plan to put your property on the market you are not required to get this certificate or carry out any work, you may still sell the property “as is” and leave the responsibility for the new owner to ensure that the swimming pool complies. However the Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Regulations 2010 require that the following statement must be included in all Contracts “An owner of a property on which a swimming pool is situated must ensure that the pool complies with the requirements of the Swimming Pools Act 1992…”

For this reason, if you are planning to sell your property, it is certainly a good idea to obtain a Swimming Pool Certificate of Compliance. It will guarantee that you have satisfied the above warning, it will avoid any possible headaches of needing to get one in a hurry if it takes longer to sell your property than expected and you cross the deadline, and it also helps ensure that all swimming pools in NSW comply with safety guidelines to keep our children safe from drowning.

If you are purchasing a property with a pool this year, you should give consideration to requesting a Certificate of Compliance from the owner, even perhaps if you offer to pay for it yourself. This way you will know that the pool is compliant prior to becoming the owner, and possibly save yourself alot of cost for example if the fence does not comply.

Council will be carrying out a compulsory inspection program, whereby they will inspect every property with a Swimming Pool over approximately the next three years. The owner will receive a letter from Council advising when they will be inspecting that street, you are required to pay the inspection fee of $150 and will then be issued with a Certificate of Compliance. If you sell your property within 3 years from the date of this Certificate you will not be obliged to obtain a new certificate.

A Certificate of Compliance can be ordered through your local council at a cost of $150.00. We are advised that they take approximately 10 working days to issue the certificate, subject to how quickly council can make a mutually convenient time with you to inspect the pool, and whether there are any issues which are raised at the inspection which need to be attended to before council can issue the certificate. The certificate may be valid for 3 years, subject to any changes in legislation during that time. Certificates can also be ordered through some private certifiers.

Should you have questions about your Swimming Pool, please let me know, or speak with your local council.

Many thanks to Lake Macquarie City Council for their assistance with my research, however they are not associated this blog.


What is a CPC Certified Practising Conveyancer ?


Over the last few years, you may have noticed the phrase Certified Practising Conveyancer starting to be used, or perhaps noticed a new CPC logo on your local conveyancers’ door. I am often asked “Licensed Conveyancer”, “Certified Practising Conveyancer” – what’s the difference?

Well all Certified Practising Conveyancers are Licensed Conveyancers, but not necessarily vice versa.

A Certiied Practicing Conveyancer, shortened to CPC, is a Licensed Conveyancer who has met a higher standard of professionalism, education and experience.

The standards in NSW are set by our institution the Australian Institute of Conveyancers NSW Division.

If you are speaking with a CPC that person has held a Conveyancing Licence for a minimum of 3 years, is properly insured and conducts themselves in accordance with a strict Code of Conduct.

CPC’s must also obtain 8 education points each year, whereas a Licensed Conveyancer is only required to obtain 5 education points.

The requirements to be a CPC must be met every year to be able to keep the CPC status.

The purpose behind the CPC name is to make it easy for you to distinguish which conveyancers have the most experience and have chosen to make the additional effort to have the most up to date knowledge with developments and technology in order to deliver the best service to you.


First Home Saver Accounts

If you are saving up to buy your first home, a First Home Saver Account might be just the thing you need to give your savings a boost to help you reach your dream of owning your own home faster!

A First Home Saver Account is a special account where the government will increase your savings by adding 17% of your contributions for the financial year, up to a capped amount. For the 2013-14 year this cap is $6,000 making t
he maximum amount that the government will contribute as $1,020.

There are lots of great benefits of these accounts

  • Free money contributed by the government
  • Make as many or as little deposits as you like each year, up to a maximum amount that the account balance can reach. This cap is $90,000 for 2013-14.
  • The money added by the government is paid in a lump sum once a year, usually around December.
  • You do not need to close the account when you reach the cap, however you can’t make further deposits and so the government contributions cease.
  • Other people such as mum and dad can also make deposits in your account
  • Earn interest on all the money in your account – that’s the money you, your parents and the government put in
  • You don’t have to report the interest on your tax return; the account provider pays the tax on these accounts, but make sure you ask if they are passing this cost onto you.
  • The money in this account is not included in income and assets tests for various government benefits such as family tax benefit
  • You don’t pay any tax on the money when you withdraw it.
  • A first home saver is an individual account, but you can buy a house with a partner whether or not they have a first home saver account.
  • You have a 14-day cooling-off period when you first open your account

There are also some not so great parts about the account which you will need to consider

  • You can’t salary sacrifice payments into your first home saver account.
  • The money that you save can only be used to pay the deposit on a home or land or other costs sustained when you buy or build your first home.
  • You have to keep the money in the account for a minimum period of time currently 4 years.
  • If you lose your eligibility to hold an account, do not buy a house or change your mind you cannot simply close your account, withdraw the money and spend it. The money must be transferred into a superannuation account, unless you are over 60.
  • You can’t make partial withdrawals.
  • You can’t take money out of a first home saver account even if you are experiencing financial hardship.

You need to have contributed at least $1,000 per year to your account in at least four financial years – the four-year rule. You need to be aware that you cannot access this money until you buy or build your first home, but if you are saving for that event then 17% government contributions is a fantastic investment.

Sound good? Wondering how you get one? Well to receive the benefits you must meet the following requirements:-

  • You must be aged 18 to 65 years old when you open the account
  • You must not have owned a house in Australia or Norfolk Island
  • You must be an Australian resident.
  • You must contribute at least $1,000 in four or more financial years
  • You must use your account funds to buy or build a home you will live in for at least six months.
  • You must withdraw all your savings before settling the purchase contract or completing the construction

First Home Saver Accounts were first offered on 1 October 2008, and now in 2014 many financial institutions are no longer offering these accounts. This may be because people are concerned about how locked in their money is, or it may be because they are not aware that the accounts exist. First Home Saver Accounts have fairly strict rules and so won’t be right for everybody, and not all first home saver accounts are the same, so as always before you choose an account, you should read the product disclosure statement provided by the financial institution.

Here is a list of Financial Institutions currently providing First Home Saver Accounts:-

  • AMP Bank Limited – ABN 15 081 596 009
  • Credit Union SA Ltd – ABN 36 087 651 232
  • Hume Building Society Ltd – ABN 85 051 868 556
  • Hunter United Employees’ Credit Union Limited – ABN 68 087 650 182
  • IMB Ltd – ABN 92 087 651 974
  • Members Equity Bank Pty Limited – ABN 56 070 887 679
  • Police Financial Services Limited – ABN 33 087 651 661
  • Railways Credit Union Limited – ABN 91 087 651 090
  • Teachers Mutual Bank Limited – ABN 30 087 650 459
  • The Police Department Employees’ Credit Union Limited – ABN 95 087 650 799
  • Victoria Teachers Limited – ABN 44 087 651 769
  • Wyong Council Credit Union Ltd – ABN 29 087 650 897
  • The Trust Company (Superannuation) Limited – ABN 49 006 421 638

When you buy or build your first home, you can withdraw your saving, close your account, and you will be that much closer to paying your mortgage back and owning your home debt free.

I hope that you have found this information helpful. If you wish to find out more about First Home Saver Accounts, please look at the following links, or contact your financial adviser to discuss the best plan for your circumstances. Best of luck with your saving goals.

https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-tools/first-home-saver-calculatorPage Content

Should I buy my property as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common?

When you purchase a property in more than one name, you need to think about whether you wish to take the property as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common.

This means that each purchaser must decide what they wish to have happen with their share of the property in the event that they were to pass away.

What Does Joint Tenants mean?

“Joint Tenants” means that the person that you purchase the property with has what is known as a right of survivorship. Meaning the deceased persons share in the property would pass straight to the surviving person, not via their will.
Joint Tenants must own the property in equal shares i.e. 50% each. There can be more than two people holding the property in this manner.

What Does Tenants In Common mean?

“Tenants in Common” means that the person that you buy the property with does not have right of survivorship. In this case a deceased persons share in the property would pass according to the terms of their will. If a person dies without a will their estate is distributed according to the Wills, Probate and Administration Act 1898.
Tenants in Common may own the property in whichever percentage of shares that they may chose i.e. 50/50; 60/40 or even 99/1. There can be more than two people holding the property in this manner

For example, if Mr & Mrs Smith are going to purchase a property in 50% shares each, then they need to think about what they want to happen to their share of the property if either of them were to die.

If they choose to buy as Joint Tenants, and Mr Smith was to die, then his 50% share of the property would pass automatically to his wife.

If they chose to buy as Tenants in Common, and Mr Smith died, then his 50% share of the property would be distributed via his will. So if Mr Smith had a child from a previous marriage and he wanted to leave the estate to them, he could do so this way.

If Mr & Mrs Smith chose to take the property as Joint Tenants, and then they break up in the future, the decision is not irreversible, even if they choose to keep the house. They can decide to split their tenancy by writing a letter to the Land Titles Office to say they now wish to hold the property as Tenants in Common. This may happen for example if Mrs Smith is going to remain living in the property with custody of their children, and it is an amicable break up of marriage so Mr Smith is happy to remain as part owner so as not to complicate the financial situation for their family.

You can of course purchase the property with more than two people and choose from a mixture of the above tenancy options to suit your purposes.

It is definitely wise for you and your property partner to really consider what you want to have happen to your share in the property if one of you were to pass away, as this decision is recorded on your Title Deed when you purchase a new property.

What are Improvements, Inclusions and Exclusions in Conveyancing?

When you buy a property in NSW, what you are really buying is the land.
So when you are looking at that four bedroom house with the beautiful polished floors, an amazing chandelier in the foyer and with a wooden cubby house in the back yard, what you are really purchasing is a plot of dirt.

That’s why it’s so important to go through the contract in detail and really specify what you expect to be on that plot of dirt when you hand your money over!

On the NSW Contract for Sale of Land, what you want and what you don’t want are set out in three clear sections – Improvements, Inclusions and Exclusions.

Improvements are the structures that have been built on the land. This is where we specifically list what you are buying, for example a House, or Home Unit, a Garage or Carport. If you are buying vacant land, this will also be stated in this section.


Inclusions are a list of all the items in the house that you expect to remain in the property when you take ownership. Standard inclusions noted on the Contract are blinds, built-in wardrobes, clothes line, curtains, dishwasher, fixed floor coverings, insect screens, light fittings, range hood, stove, pool equipment and TV antenna. Some other common examples are air conditioner, ceiling fans, gas heater, security system etc.
Occasionally you may make an agreement with the seller to buy something that belongs to them and is not really a part of the house, so for example if there are not built in wardrobes in the property, you may agree to purchase a free standing wardrobe that they have in the bedroom as part of the Contract.
The idea here is to be as specific as you can about what you expect so that there are no surprises on settlement.
We have had clients on the day of settlement disappointed about comparatively small things, for example the owner removing tomato plants from the garden. If you really want that tomato plant, or chandelier, or whatever it may be for you, the best thing you can do is write it down on the Contract so you know exactly what you are getting and there are no arguments or unnecessary stress on settlement.


Exclusions are a list of anything that you specifically want taken off of the property before it becomes yours. Examples may be an aviary in the yard or a built in workbench in the garage if you plan to use that space for something else.
This is also the place that the owner may tell you if they plan to take something that you may have thought was included. In this case it would normally be something of sentimental value for example the owner wants to keep the curtains in the bedroom as they were made for them by their mother, or perhaps they wish to move the cubby house to their new home.

The whole system is designed to make sure that you know exactly what to expect on the day of settlement.

Remember, ambiguity is the enemy of the law, so take the time to set out exactly what you and do not want on your Contract.